Retail giant Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend $700 million over six years on postsecondary job training for 100,000 of its soon-to-be 300,000 workers. Most of the company's subsidized education and training programs will be offered outside traditional colleges and universities, in large part by spin-off providers created by Amazon.
For example, the company described Machine Learning University, which it created for employees with technical and coding backgrounds to gain skills in machine learning.
"As machine learning plays an increasingly important role in customer innovation, MLU helps employees learn core skills to propel their career growth -- skills that are often taught only in higher education," Amazon said in a written statement. "Divided into six-week modules, the program requires only half to one full day of participation a week. MLU is taught by more than 400 Amazon machine learning scientists who are passionate about furthering skills in the field."
A couple of the initiatives Amazon said it was planning to expand with the new $700 million include its prepaid tuition program, Career Choice. According to the company's website, Career Choice will pay 95 percent of tuition and fees, up to a cap, for a certificate or diploma program in high-demand fields, including transportation, health care, mechanical and skilled trades, and IT and computer science. Presumably, some of the postsecondary options that qualify under the program are offered by community colleges or other traditional higher education institutions. But that wasn't clear on the website.
The company also said it had created classroom spaces in Amazon locations to make it easier for employees to attend postsecondary classes. Amazon said it was on track to create 60 such classroom locations in 2020. So far, 25,000 employees have received training through the program, the company said.
Amazon also said it was expanding its apprenticeship offerings and its AWS training and certification in cloud computing. That program is offered in partnership with community colleges, among other postsecondary partners.
"While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others it might be a stepping-stone to different aspirations," said Beth Galetti, Amazon's senior vice president of HR. "We think it’s important to invest in our employees and to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves. With this pledge, we’re committing to support 100,000 Amazonians in getting the skills to make the next step in their careers."